It is over six months on from when the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018 (PTR 2018) came into force on 1 July 2018. PTR 2018 implements Directive (EU) 2015/2302 and replaces the 1992 Package Travel Regulations. The effect of PTR 2018 is to increase the number of packages that have insolvency protection in place so that consumers are refunded, and where appropriate, repatriated if the organiser becomes insolvent. In response to the concerns raised during implementation, the Government committed to taking stock after six and twelve months of PTR 2018’s operation. The aim is to use the insights gained to help inform a fuller review at the 12 months stage.
The WTA's key concern is that where the information requirements are useful for consumers when they are purchasing products that are generally recognised to be package holidays that include transport and accommodation, the information required is far less useful in situations where the consumer is purchasing Value-Added product that combines accommodation with “Other Tourism Services” such as a ticket to an attraction. Plus they are of no real use where the products and services are being provided on the same premises by the same operator. In these situations, the requirements are simply an additional burden for businesses and confusing to consumers.
Wales Tourism Alliance Chair, Andrew Campbell (2nd right) gave a presentation at Sail Scotland's Marine Tourism Conference, (6th March 2019) held in the Clydeside town of Greenock. The event formed part of Scotland's Month of Tourism and was focused on how best to secure opportunities for the Year of Coasts and Waters which commences in 2020.
Andrew gave an industry perspective and review of Wales' Year of the Sea 2018 campaign, based upon feedback received from WTA members - and was also able to share ideas and examples of good practice. It was also an occasion to showcase the nation's maritime assets, which one delegate described as a "great advert for Welsh tourism!".
Other speakers included:
Fergus Ewing - Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy; Jock Wishart - Legendary Maritime Adventurer; Hugo Tagholm - CEO Surfers Against Sewage; Marie Christie - VisitScotland; Robbie Drummond - MD Calmac Ferries; Jeff Houlgrave - Chairman Superyacht UK
Karen Christie - Scottish Tourism Alliance; Daniel Steele - CEO Sail Scotland
Andrew Campbell, WTA Chair (Left), Adrian Greason-Walker, WTA Policy Advocate (right) met with Marie Lorimer, Head of Public Policy (Centre right) and Paula Ellis, Retreats Group (2nd left) to discuss the 'Sharing Economy' and its impact on the Tourism industry in Wales. Following this initial meeting a Tourism Cross Party Group was held with Assembly Members, Members of the Wales Tourism Alliance and other industry representatives including the Cardiff Marriott and Cardiff Metropolitan University.
Online platforms are facilitating new economic interactions, increasing market efficiency, lowering prices and providing more choice for suppliers and consumers. However, with such rapid growth comes a number of issues. Marie Lorimer after providing an in-depth review of the Airbnb platform, discussed the ways in which Airbnb is addressing concerns about the adequacy of fire, utilities and quality assurance by engaging more actively with their hosts and the use of self-regulation.
In the follow up Q&A session it was agreed that although these were advancements none of that should override the basic principle of a level playing field for all accommodation in terms of responsibilities and requirements for visitor safety, whether that comes via Sharing Economy platforms, booking agencies or tourism companies. It was concluded that more needs to be done to protect customer safety and maintain a level regulatory playing field across the tourism industry, whilst taking into account the needs of local communities and ensuring that all operators of tourism accommodation are paying the appropriate level of taxation.
TIER is a small group comprising key tourism industry organisations and government. The group develops plans for crisis scenarios as well as managing the tourism industry’s response to a specific crisis. TIER is facilitated by VisitBritain and comprises 10+ industry representatives. Members of the group include the Association of British Travel Agents, UKinbound, UK Hospitality, Britain’s national tourist boards, British Airways and the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions. Other groups are called on depending on the location and nature of the crisis.
A meeting was held on the 12th March to discuss the impact of BREXIT on the industry:
Advice for visitors
For more information, visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/visiting-the-uk-after-brexit
Advice for workers
There is a Gov.UK website that contains information and advice for visitors to the UK regarding the impacts of Brexit. The site includes information on what happens under both Deal and No Deal scenarios. The information is being updated on a regular basis so it is keep an eye on the page as the advice changes with the political situation. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/visiting-the-uk-after-brexit
Visit Britain's analysis of the Q3 IPS figures contains useful information on what is happening in European markets. The figures are six months old and the factors associated with increases and decreases are not solely attributable to Brexit, but it does give a flavour as to which markets seem to be holding up (eg., Sweden and Spain) and which ones seem to be affected (Germany and the Netherlands).
General Economic Status
It is worth noting that all the forecasts are based on the assumption that the UK leaves the EU with a deal (ie., goes into a transition period during which the status-quo with the EU remains). If UK crashes out, then all forecasts are off.
Tourism Related Issues
• The Government announced a review of global tech companies to ensure they pay a fair share of tax in the UK.
Briefing Seminars - Business Wales is running Brexit related seminars designed to give you the most up to date position on Brexit and to present and clarify the support available to you through Welsh Government and other key stakeholders. These events will provide attendees with a clear understanding on support available for businesses to prepare for Brexit, such as the Brexit Portal and diagnostic tools, support available within WG (such as Business Wales, International Trade etc) as well as support available from key stakeholders such as the Development Bank of Wales, Local Authorities etc. There will also be an opportunity to network.
Brexit Webinars are also being delivered by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, designed to help businesses get ready for the UK leaving the EU. These include –
Preparing for Brexit: Digital and Data - Fri 15 March 2019, 11:00 - 12:00
Preparing for Brexit: Importing and Exporting - Mon 18 March 2019, 13:00 - 14:00
Preparing for Brexit: Business Legal Requirements - Tue 19 March 2019, 12:00 - 13:00
Preparing for Brexit: Intellectual Property - Wed 20 March 2019, 11:00 - 12:00
For more information click here
The inaugural Mid Wales Tourism Awards have been announced to celebrate and promote the region’s exceptional tourism industry and the talented businesses and individuals driving the sector forward.
Unveiled at the Mid Wales Tourism Conference, held in Llandrindod Wells, by Steve Hughson, chair of the Regional Tourism Forum (Mid Wales) and chief executive of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society, the awards will recognise tourism excellence throughout Powys, the Brecon Beacons, Ceredigion and Southern Meirionnydd.
“Mid Wales is being talked about all over the world so it is only fitting that these awards are introduced to reward the outstanding work that we are seeing every single day of the year,” said Mr Hughson.
“Tourism Awards are well established in North and South Wales, so now is our time to shine by backing the incredible businesses and individuals who are excelling across Mid Wales.”
Nominations in a number of categories will open in May 2019 with the winners to be announced at a glittering ceremony at The Hafren, Newtown, on October 17.
Sub categories for each of the main awards will give smaller businesses in Mid Wales the opportunity to compete at regional level and be recognised as finalists, with the overall winners going forward to the national Visit Wales Awards in March 2020.
The Awards are being organised by Mid Wales Tourism, also known as MWT Cymru, the regional destination marketing and membership organisation for Powys, Ceredigion, and Southern Meirionnydd. As a not-for-profit social enterprise company, they support and represent over 550 businesses and organisations throughout the region.
“The importance of these Awards extends way beyond who wins,” said Val Hawkins, chief executive of MWT Cymru. “The criteria to enter will be set to exceptionally high standards so it presents an opportunity to not only raise the bar but to also raise the profile of the wonderful attractions and businesses that make Mid Wales such a unique place to visit.
“The Mid Wales Tourism Awards are ultimately our chance to promote the region and I wholeheartedly encourage everyone involved in the sector to participate, promote, sponsor or simply attend the awards night to make it a roaring success.”
The Mid Wales Tourism Awards have the full support of Visit Wales, the national tourism organisation funded by the Welsh Government, and the Regional Tourism Forum (Mid Wales), a public and sector partnership of which MWT Cymru is an active member.
A dedicated Tourism Advisory Group has been established specifically to assist and will include representatives from Visit Wales, Ceredigion County Council, Powys County Council and others.
Meanwhile, expressions of interest for exclusive headline sponsorship and category sponsorship opportunities are now open.
There are currently 12 award categories, with more due to be announced soon, which capture the huge diversity of the Mid Wales’ tourism industry.
For more information on the sponsorship packages available, or to keep up to date with the latest developments, visit www.midwalestourismawards.co.uk
Mid Wales Tourism Awards (further categories to be announced soon):
The WTA, whilst welcoming Conwy County Borough Council's plans to make tourism in Conwy a billion pound part of the economy, has expressed alarm at reports of Councillors wanting to look at a new tourism tax and a charge of £1 per head.
Andrew Campbell, Chairman of the WTA said, 'Where Tourism Tax is applied, it has been in destinations with 'too many' visitors and is used as a means of controlling numbers. Despite its popularity, surely Conwy does not want to curb visitors? Most European countries have chosen to significantly reduce the VAT on their tourism industries to encourage growth, employment and revenue. The imposition of higher taxes in Conwy could inhibit growth, employment, revenue and holiday-taking. Seriously, a Tourism Tax for Conwy'?
A tourism tax must be understood in the wider tax context. The UK imposes one of the highest rates of taxes on its tourism industry. As a consequence the UK is ranked by the World Economic Forum (2015) as 140th out of 141 countries for price competitiveness in the tourism industry.
The existing tourism tax burden includes high rates of VAT and Air Passenger Duty (APD), which undermine the sector’s potential to contribute to the national economy, damage growth and stifle job creation. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the leading authority on world travel and tourism, has produced several influential pieces of work highlighting the negative impact of tax and the tax burden on the tourism sector. Authored by the well-respected Oxford Economics (who produce much of the economic analysis/data utilised by government at all levels), the reports demonstrate that:
The Welsh tourism industry is largely made up of micro businesses/SMEs and the sector is vitally important to rural as well as urban economies, enhancing the provision of facilities and amenities, which are accessed by residents and visitors alike. In Wales, 25% of all VAT registered businesses are in the visitor economy, which has proved to be highly resilient in the face of austerity, offering significant employment opportunities where alternatives are very limited. Levying additional tax on a priority sector is ill informed and would be counter to policy in most other European countries, which have actively sought to cut tourism tax to stimulate tourism growth, tax revenue, GDP and employment.
Clearly, what amounts to an accommodation tax (as it is simply not possible to tax day visitors) in other European countries operates in a much less punitive tax environment, with UK VAT rates more than double most of its competitors.
Recognising the VAT tax burden, Plaid Cymru’s 2017 manifesto included a reduction in tourism VAT to 5% as an explicit policy, stating that existing tourism taxes are “unfair”. Liberal Democrat policy also supports a cut in tourism VAT. From a social equality perspective this tax would punish those least able to pay, those who already struggle to take any kind of holiday, which is regarded as a human right and right of citizenship. It would also make tourists less likely to choose Wales, opting instead for one of its competitor UK destinations.
Worth noting...The Preparing Wales website provides information which will help people and organisations prepare for Brexit in the immediate run-up to 29 March and into the transition period, particularly in the event of a no deal scenario.